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Reducing our paper use by 41, 000 pieces starting here.
Starting today, we are significantly reducing the amount of paper we print / recycle each day in our Durham production facility.
 
For the last two years, we've been printing multiple pieces of paper for each wholesale order to get the right coffee into the right box – all but one of which got recycled every day. With a newly implemented bin system, we are now printing only one page per order! That's a big reduction!!
 
To put this into context, for production wholesale orders in 2011, we printed close to 63,000 pieces of paper. That's 126 reams of paper! And, while we recycled 41,000 pages of that, we no longer print extra pages that need to be recycled.
 
I'd like to point out all the hard work that Tom Burns, Ryan Stickles, and Jeff McArthur have done to make this happen. I'm really excited we're not using so much paper now!
 
-Thomas Nickles
IT Manager
POSTED IN: sustainability
Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture
Coffee education, quality, and sustainability are interdependent. Because we strive to be leaders in sustainable coffee and combine our commitment to buying the highest quality coffee with respect for the natural environment, we feel a responsibility to share what we learn with everyone. So, we're especially excited about a new addition to our Counter Intelligence coffee education lineup: an hour-and-a-half workshop called Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture, which debuted today in Durham.
 
The workshop introduces the concepts of agriculture as they relate to coffee farming, using organic certified Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, as a case study. Participants learn about the agricultural intricacies of coffee production, explore organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers, and take away a seedling to nurture at home. As much about agriculture as it is about coffee, Coffee Farming, Soil, and Organic Agriculture s a great workshop for those in the coffee industry, but you don't have to be a coffee person to attend. Gardeners, foodies, agriculture scholars, organic activists are encouraged to participate. Stay tuned to our Counter Culture Coffee facebook page for future editions of this and other workshops.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
Note: Our deliver carriers will not be operating Wednesday, July 4, in observance of the Independence Day holiday. No packages will be delivered that day, and packages in transit will not be moved toward their final destination. We will als be closed Wednesday. Orders received after midnight tonight through midnight Wednesday will be roasted, packaged, and shipped on Thursday, July 5.
POSTED IN: organic
"I am not a gardener," admits Atlanta Wholesale Regional Representative David LaMont. "At best, my thumbs are the pale green of dead grass."
 
That lack of aptitude didn't stop David from applying for Counter Culture's employee matching "Green Fund" program to build raised garden beds in the yard of his Sugar Hill, GA, home with the goals of spending more time outdoors with his kids and growing a bit of their own food.
 
In 2011, our Sustainability Committee introduced the Counter Culture Employee Green Fund, which offers each employee the opportunity to apply for up to $500 a year in matching funds toward a personal sustainability-related project. Other projects have included gym memberships, a high-efficiency washing machine, a rain-water garden irrigation system, home fitness equipment, and more. In its first year, the Green Fund contributed $2,266.01 in matching funds.
 
Read about David's Raised Garden Bed project on facebook and look for more Green Fund stories coming soon.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: sustainability
In recent years, we've increased our focus on coffee seasonality to the point that we roast each year's harvest of a coffee for about 6 months after it arrives, then eagerly await it next year. With the return of Finca Nueva Armenia a few weeks ago, coffees have begun to arrive from the northern hemisphere, and the next few weeks and months will bring an incredible influx.
 
Coffee Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill posted an update about upcoming coffees along with relevant photos on flickr, sharing his unique insight into coffees as varied as a Finca El Puente Yellow Catuai Microlot from Honduras to a Thiriku Peaberry lot from Kenya. These northern hemisphere arrivals reflect the amazing breadth of coffees (sometimes from a single farm) made possible by the long-term relationships our coffee department works to strengthen each year, as well as by their persistent pursuit of new and exciting coffees.
 
Perennial favorites like Finca Mauritania and Idido Natural Sundried are on their way, along with soon-to-be favorites like Las Milpas and a tiny 400 pound lot of Santa Elena Kenya Type Microlot. Read Tim's coffee update on flickr for details.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: coffee, seasonality
Do microlots mater to producers?
Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu and Independent Evaluation Consultant Hannah Popish worked together on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots.
 
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
 
Read more about the microlots study and see the results in the Sustainability section of our website.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
We're honored to have won the 2012 Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year Award.
The Institute for Sustainable Development chose Counter Culture as its 2012 Sustainable Enterprise of the Year out of the more than 200 companies that participate in the Green Plus triple-bottom-line certification program across 15 states. We were one of the first businesses to sign up for the then-brand-new Green Plus program in 2008, and we have come a long way since then, so it feels especially good to receive this public recognition for our efforts.
 
Last week's launch of our first-ever advocacy campaign, Save Our Soil, is a great example of how we continue to push our industry and communities to pursue real sustainability.
 
I am grateful to and appreciative of the role that each of my co-workers has had in making our initiatives successful over these past four years and excited to continue our journey! Go team!
 
Sincerely,
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: sustainability
Do microlots mater to producers?
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
 
The hypothesis prior to the study was that microlot coffee production may have both positive and negative impacts on communities, with positive impacts including recognition for effort and a return on investment in quality and negative impacts including feelings of envy and competition among fellow community members. The study design aimed to clarify the elements of microlot coffee production that contribute to its success and the areas that need improvement. Data was collected through 13 semi-structured, open-ended, qualitative interviews with microlot-producing and non-microlot-producing members of the cooperative, two interviews with CENFROCAFE staff members who work in these communities, and one facilitated community meeting.
 
We examined common themes and differences among members, as well as among members and Cenfrocafe representatives. Both microlot-producing members and non-microlot-producing members expressed support for the program and its continuation. Price incentives and pride emerged as the primary motivators for exerting extra effort, and members unanimously feel supportive of the microlot achievement of other community members. At the same time, all members expressed a desire to see the program evolve to address some commonly-cited areas for improvement, including the cupping and scoring system used by CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee and the on-farm infrastructure required for production of high-quality coffee. CENFROCAFE's staff demonstrated even more positive feelings overall, with a desire to create more, similar opportunities for growers in other communities of members as a top priority.
 
Limitations of the study include: small sample size, lack of diversity among sample, consideration for cultural congruency of the research design, and the survey instrument. Recommendations for enhancements of the partnership between CENFROCAFE and members as well as for CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee are addressed. Suggestions for future research are explored with an emphasis on a more participatory approach and an additional focus on economic impact of microlots.
 
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
Our soils are in crisis.
We want to help to reverse a global trend in agriculture that threatens not only coffee quality, but also sustainable food production, groundwater integrity, and our planet's biodiversity. Our new Save Our Soil campaign aims to raise awareness about the widespread degradation of soil health brought about by conventional, chemical-based agriculture and shed light on the critical importance of organic agriculture as the way forward.
 
Friday, April 20, Counter Culture Coffee training centers in Asheville, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, New York, and Washington, DC, will host Save Our Soil launch events, which will include a cupping (tasting) of three different organic coffees followed by a presentation about the campaign.
 
Over the course of the next year, Counter Culture, our customers, and other partnering organizations will hold Save Our Soil events – from organic food and coffee pairings to home composting workshops and organic farmer round table discussions – focused on education, as well as opportunities for organic advocacy.
 
Save Our Soil is about solutions, and it carries the positive message that we can solve our soil crisis through organic agriculture, which builds rather than destroys soil health. We simply care too much about great coffee, and the communities that depend on it, to sit by while its future is threatened. We hope to inspire people to join us as fellow organic advocates!
 
Sincerely,
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: organic

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